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Hi-Lo closing in February

Luther Jan 15, 2011 04:32 AM

Slim mentioned this on the January thread but I think it deserves its own post.


Whole Foods? f7u12

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  1. C. Hamster Jan 15, 2011 04:57 AM

    That's a damn shame

    1. m
      Madrid Jan 15, 2011 04:58 AM

      very sad, very bad.

      1. c
        Cachetes Jan 15, 2011 05:07 AM

        This is such a disappointment. We typically headed over to JP about once/month to stock up. Now that I think about it, it was rarely crowded while we were there.

        Whole Foods? I guess it's going in b/c that's where the majority want to shop. Nothing wrong with the place; I'm just sorry to see the loss of diversity to be replaced by the typical fare.

        1. PinchOfSalt Jan 15, 2011 05:20 AM

          So sad! I have only gone to Hi-Lo once or twice over the years (you can't get there from here, at least not without a very long drive), but it was always so good to know it WAS there. In this day of big shiny Asian supermarkets, one would hope that a Latino supermarket would also have a place in our community.

          4 Replies
          1. re: PinchOfSalt
            grant.cook Jan 15, 2011 06:44 AM

            I seem to remember a decent sized latin market on the south side of Boston, like off of Melnea Cass. Can't recall the name though..

            1. re: grant.cook
              AGM_Cape_Cod Jan 15, 2011 07:08 AM

              I think you mean Tropical Foods on Washington.

              1. re: AGM_Cape_Cod
                grant.cook Jan 15, 2011 06:15 PM

                Yep, you got it..

            2. re: PinchOfSalt
              dr.e Jan 21, 2011 11:37 AM

              I live in JP, walking distance to the Hi-Lo as well as the local Stop and Shop. and I have to say, I would NEVER wind up going to the Hi-Lo. It was always empty, filthy, no decent produce. I don't think its replacement with a Whole Foods is evidence of the community's lack of desire for a Latino supermarket (quite the opposite! much like the Asian markets, everyone seems to like ethnic supermarkets, they tend to have cool stuff!), but specifically evidence that the Hi-Lo wasn't very good at being a supermarket - of any sort.

            3. galangatron Jan 15, 2011 05:32 AM

              that is sad news

              1. C. Hamster Jan 15, 2011 07:01 AM

                I used to live a block away ... I can't imagine a WF occupying that space. Sure to be crazy.

                Has anyone been to HiLo lately? I'm going to rush over. Hopefully it's not barren yet.

                1. p
                  purple bot Jan 15, 2011 09:51 AM

                  Well, I know my JP friends are excited by the possibility of having access on a regular basis to a clean store that sells a variety of fresh and sustainable foods, without having to get themselves over to Brookline or Cambridge. It's not necessarily "bad", it's just change.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: purple bot
                    Luther Jan 15, 2011 01:11 PM

                    They also sell a variety of expensive placebos, they are saving the world

                    1. re: Luther
                      cambridgedoctpr Jan 15, 2011 01:15 PM

                      true, true, but they sell a lot of good food - and a lot of pseudo-good food.

                    2. re: purple bot
                      celeriac Jan 15, 2011 05:19 PM

                      Well, I know my JP friends are disappointed to see the neighborhood losing its individuality and going the way of Brookline and Cambridge. (As am I, a recent JP transplant from Cambridge) I mention this not to say that one side is right and one is wrong, but just that this isn't a case of everyone in the neighborhood being elated at finally having a WF nearby.

                      I particularly bristle at the suggestion that WF is going to be our savior, bringing sustainable foods to the community. City Feed and Harvest, imperfect though they may be (and believe me, I KNOW they are imperfect), are going to have a hell of a time staying alive. For me that's disappointing because at least City Feed, unlike WF, really does its very best to walk the walk in terms of local sourcing. In that regard, they're probably the best in the greater Boston area. And though I don't have much love for Harvest, it has a bulk section as good as any area Whole Foods. I'm sure I'll shop at WF sometimes, but I'll go out of my way to continuing supporting these other businesses as much as I can.

                      All of this, to say nothing of the broader implications for the community, which is another topic for another website...

                      1. re: celeriac
                        purple bot Jan 15, 2011 07:04 PM

                        "this isn't a case of everyone in the neighborhood being elated at finally having a WF nearby. "

                        Clearly. And I don't recall saying that, or that WF was going to save the world. Like you, I'm only saying that not everyone in JP sees it the same way. No everyone sees WF as the devil coming to steal the soul of JP. I'm also a little unclear about why it's assumed that JP will become "Anytown, USA" because a decent grocery store opens up. There are plenty of other chains there, so that can't be the argument.

                        I love City Feed, as do most people I know. I also don't fear that they'll be threatened by WF. City Feed is it's own entity, with a neighborhood vibe that can't be replaced by a chain. They are amazing with their sourcing, and they're vital to JP. That said, it's not really a place to do your weekly shopping either. I'm certain they'll be just fine, JP will have their back. Harvest is a joke, bulk section aside. Let's be honest. A dirty joke, at that.

                        Speaking of jokes, what really makes me laugh is everyone saying Trader Joe's should go in instead (as if it were up for vote, that's the funny part). Don't get me wrong, I love TJ's -- for certain things. But it kind of seems like comparing apples and oranges.

                        Okay, we can agree to disagree. But I think I should be able to say that I know people that support (as I do) WF coming to JP without being labeled yuppie scum (that's the implication, isn't it?). Some are happy, some are sad. How about if we let people express their views without judgment?

                        Trader Joe's
                        1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                        1. re: purple bot
                          celeriac Jan 15, 2011 08:48 PM

                          I wasn't trying to imply that you were yuppie scum, but simply to register the fact that not one person I've spoken to is happy about the change, and give some context as to why I think that is. If you feel judged, that was not my intention.

                          As for City Feed, I hope that you're right. I just found it a little silly to assert that JP was a desert for sustainable foods.

                          And I'm not sure who "everyone" is, but I agree that TJs would be infinitely worse that Whole Foods. I also agree that Harvest is a bit of a joke. This coming from a reluctant Harvest owner/member.

                          1. re: celeriac
                            The Chowhound Team Jan 20, 2011 11:09 AM

                            Folks, we'd ask that you try to keep this conversation on food, rather than on general issues related to gentrification, etc. We've removed some posts, and hope the rest of the discussion will focus on alternatives to the closing business and where else to get those kinds of items.

                            1. re: celeriac
                              dr.e Jan 21, 2011 11:42 AM

                              just to go on record about it: I am happy about the change. I am also a Harvest owner/member, and I like Harvest a lot - but they're tiny and limited in what they can do. I also love City Feed. and I think Whole Foods is also going to be a great complement to the neighborhood, bring more jobs and more business into JP, and clean up a spot on Centre St. that has been kind of derelict for a while now. Just like there can be several yummy restaurants in a neighborhood (like ours!) I think there can be several spots for groceries, each with their niche.

                        2. re: purple bot
                          TheScribe Jan 19, 2011 06:10 AM

                          But there's Harvest and City Feed now.

                        3. a
                          autopi Jan 15, 2011 07:35 PM

                          good riddance. that place was filthy, stank to high heaven, and was not exactly filled with what one would call helpful staff. JP has been sorely lacking a decent grocery store, and a whole foods would be very welcome.

                          there might be a few things there that would be difficult to find elsewhere, or that will be noticeably more expensive, but i'd make that tradeoff in a heartbeat. anyway, given the rents in JP these days, an extra $0.25 for a lime is not likely to be that onerous a burden for most JP residents.

                          a little competition would be good for harvest too -- that sorry place has been coasting along for years.

                          1. 6
                            66corvair Jan 16, 2011 03:15 AM

                            Yay! A salad bar next to my work. I can hardly wait.

                            1. redrako Jan 16, 2011 04:16 AM

                              Things have been off kilter since Flanagans Market was replaced by CVS!

                              Seriously it will be interesting to see how supportive the locovore, JP hipsters are to City Feed. I suspect that despite all of the wing flapping (albeit, locally sourced, 100% organic), they will be shopping at Whole Foods in short order.

                              I've always found it amusing how the neighborhood associations have worked to steer what businesses go into JP working to make it a boutique (read high-priced) community. When it comes to diversity, lifestyle trumps actually actually having places for non-advanced degree residents.

                              1. Kirs Jan 16, 2011 09:42 AM

                                Like I posted on UH:

                                JP has been in need of a decent, full sized grocery store for a pathetically long time. I live in one of the biggest neighborhoods in Boston and I have to drive to either Dorchester, West Roxbury Cambridge or Freaking Dedham to find a well stocked store with good produce. So I'll happily take the WF (and I'll prefer it to a TJs because holyscrap TJ produce is uniformly awful).

                                I would have loved to shop at Hi-Lo but the fact of the matter is they didn't stock anything I wanted- even basics. I ran in there a couple months ago looking for a can of diced tomatoes. That's it. They didn't even have that! I've attempted to get produce there but it wasn't worth picking through the rotten/disgusting things to maybe find something edible.

                                It would be one thing to lament the passing of an excellent store but Hi-Lo just wasn't that store. I can't say I'll miss it. (Although I can't say I'm all that excited to deal with the insane traffic that will result from having the WF there)

                                10 Replies
                                1. re: Kirs
                                  Bob Dobalina Jan 19, 2011 04:24 AM

                                  What about the Stop and Shop in JP?

                                  1. re: autopi
                                    Bob Dobalina Jan 19, 2011 06:19 AM

                                    I learned in a college class many years ago that the JP Stop and Shop notably was one of the first (and possibly only) major supermarket chain to move into a low income neighborhood in the Boston area.

                                    1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                      C. Hamster Jan 19, 2011 07:35 AM

                                      Followed by either a SS or a Shaws on River Street

                                    2. re: Bob Dobalina
                                      Kirs Jan 19, 2011 11:19 AM

                                      That Stop and Shop is a joke. It is, quite possibly, the most horrible Stop and Shop in existence. I kid you not, I once went in there looking for a red onion and they didn't have any. Pumpkins? Nope (and this was in early October). Butternut Squash? Nope. Poblanos? Yes, but they only had two and they were disgusting. I wouldn't dare touch any of their more perishable produce.

                                      And, to add insult to injury, the employees there are awful. Horrible service, even for a stop & shop. I don't even bother trying anymore- I just drive to South Bay when I need to go to Stop & Shop. At least there I can get most of the produce I need.

                                      1. re: Kirs
                                        Luther Jan 19, 2011 01:34 PM

                                        They have Big Papi hot sauce, which is delicious.

                                        1. re: Luther
                                          C. Hamster Jan 20, 2011 09:18 AM

                                          It is delicious. But you can buy it all over.

                                        2. re: Kirs
                                          Prav Jan 19, 2011 01:38 PM

                                          I agree. It was generally one of the more neglected-looking SS. Wonder if it's any different?

                                          Few years ago, I did somehow get mixed up in a hilariously (now that it's been a few years) strange Craigslist "Missed Connection" incident (and subsequent HORRIBLE date!!) at that SS. Makes a great story for parties.

                                          I too am wondering how the parking situation will be with the traffic increase that would presumably follow a WF opening there.

                                          1. re: Prav
                                            greengage Jan 20, 2011 10:57 AM

                                            Ehh. It's better than it used to be, but the staff is pretty rude and it's generally a joyless kind of place. It definitely has that slightly divided city vibe--prominent natural foods section alongside plantains and blue juice and so on.

                                            1. re: greengage
                                              Prav Jan 20, 2011 12:25 PM

                                              haha, I grew up on blue juice! and "grape drink".

                                              1. re: Prav
                                                greengage Jan 20, 2011 01:46 PM

                                                I grew up on whole wheat bread and Teddie peanut butter and envying the kids with the "barrels" of grape drink!

                                    3. cassoulady Jan 17, 2011 05:33 PM

                                      Is it official that WF is opening there or is this still speculation?

                                      4 Replies
                                      1. re: cassoulady
                                        Luther Jan 19, 2011 08:49 AM

                                        Grub Street says that WF has confirmed but they don't give a source.


                                        1. re: Luther
                                          Bob Dobalina Jan 19, 2011 08:50 AM


                                          1. re: Bob Dobalina
                                            Luther Jan 19, 2011 10:15 AM

                                            Of course they will "source" these products and not "sell" them, which would just be uncool.

                                            1. re: Luther
                                              Madrid Jan 19, 2011 10:29 AM

                                              I hope some store will "stock" and "sell" a wide variety of latin products. I hate the term "source" though sometimes I like the results. But given the demographics of the changing JP, I wonder how many latin products they'll actually have. And wouldn't it be nice to have a place that makes real tortillas...and that sells the masa so we can make real tortillas at home?

                                              There are lots of reasons to dislike WF, besides the obvious Whole Paycheck. They take over independent stores in upscale, middle scale, and downscale (far less often) neighborhoods that stock foods from local producers of all kinds as well as interesting products non local selected by non corporate staff.....and then they turn most every store into a carbon copy of the stores thousands of miles away and the unique products disappear. The River Street WF in Cambridge used to have Blue Ribbon BBQ, disappeared in favor of pizza..

                                              I won't miss the mice and the smells at HI-Lo, but I will miss some of the products. Just as I miss some of the stuff Bread and Circus used to stock.

                                              Blue Ribbon BBQ
                                              910 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                                      2. okra Jan 20, 2011 05:39 AM

                                        One more Globe article.

                                        Hi Lo Foods
                                        450 Centre St, Jamaica Plain, MA 02130

                                        7 Replies
                                        1. re: okra
                                          gaucho14 Jan 20, 2011 06:07 AM

                                          I've lived five minutes from Hi-Lo for the past decade and I am glad to see it go. Many folks who tout the diversity the store brings to the neighborhood many not have ever been inside. It is not a good place to purchase food. In the few times I have visited to pick up staples, I have been concerned about the quality of the products. I don't care what population the store is intended to serve, if the patrons question the quality of the products (this includes non-perishables, to say nothing of the sub-par produce and meats) then its closing should not be lamented. Though I would prefer a Trader Joe's, which I think is a better fit for the community, WH is just fine. On a somewhat different note, I really do hope that the presence of the store increases property values in the area. Not trying to be controversial, but I love the area, have been an involved member of the neighborhood for well over a decade, and I would like to make as large a profit on my condo as possible. I think I am part of the silent majority on the latter point.

                                          Trader Joe's
                                          1427 Massachusetts Ave, Arlington, MA 02476

                                          1. re: gaucho14
                                            sallyt Jan 20, 2011 07:53 AM

                                            Here, here (hear hear?). There was a story on NPR this morning about Hi-Lo, and many residents echoed your feelings about the quality of the food at Hi-Lo. It's easy to romanticize it, but the quality was poor...

                                            FWIW, from their press release, WF seems committed to the neighborhood, including hiring local people, which would be great.

                                            1. re: sallyt
                                              phonelady Jan 20, 2011 10:31 AM


                                              1. re: phonelady
                                                Canadian Tuxedo Jan 20, 2011 10:56 AM

                                                Thanks for pointing out that article from the Herald. I find these two paragraphs kinda amusing next to each other:

                                                "I think that . . . diversity is what really defines the character of Jamaica Plain, and corporate businesses don’t really reflect that diversity,” said David Warner, 41, co-owner of two City Feed and Supply natural food stores.

                                                The mayor shares neighbors’ concerns about higher food prices in the area, Joyce said."

                                                The higher food prices comment refers to the bodegas in the neighborhood, with the fear being that without the low-price competition from Hi-Lo they will raise their prices on Hispanic food items.

                                                Warner can talk about the diversity of the neighborhood but hopefully doesn't speak about price concerns. The price of City Feed's produce almost makes WH look like Russo's.

                                            2. re: gaucho14
                                              RichardinJP Jan 20, 2011 09:37 AM

                                              That is an overly broad generalization. Yes, one needed to pick through the produce and sometimes the pickings were thin, but you could not find better cilantro, jalapenos, poblanos, chayotes, plantains and often, but not always lemons and limes. The sausages, many made in house, were unique and delicious. And I never had a problem finding a great pork shoulder or ribs. And where else would one find the assortment of peruvian, mexican and other hispanic canned goods? My shopping typically takes me to chain grocery stores, local farms and butchers. But I will definitely miss not having HiLo as a one of my stops. It is very say to see it go.

                                              1. re: RichardinJP
                                                C. Hamster Jan 20, 2011 09:53 AM

                                                Well said.

                                                1. re: RichardinJP
                                                  autopi Jan 20, 2011 09:59 AM

                                                  i bought plantains, limes & cilantro from hi-lo on a semi-regular basis, and can't say i noticed any difference in quality from what i got elsewhere. if anything, the limes were actually on average worse.

                                                  speaking for myself, i would never buy meat there. the place smelled something awful.

                                            3. Karl S Jan 20, 2011 06:37 PM

                                              JP needs Price Rite, not WF.

                                              1. p
                                                pierce Jan 21, 2011 06:05 AM

                                                well if we're mulling hypotheticals then I would say most JPers would take a Russo's over any of the above mentioned.

                                                I just hope that if Whole Foods does a rebuild that they are forced to do so with building frontage on Centre and parking hidden behind, that would be a big gain for Hyde Square urbanistically.

                                                I live a few blocks away, and would go to Hi-Lo once every couple of months for something so I won't miss it much personally in terms of my shopping habits, but I admit I am bummed that we are losing something unique and taking a step towards Anywhere, USA.

                                                That said, unless I start noticing Whole Foods Community Center and the Whole Foods Ice Rink, etc., my wife and I (and many of our neighbors) will still be making our way to Roche Brothers on the weekends, despite the slight inconvenience.

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